Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Rekindling Old Passions and Finding New May 25, 2012

I have a new passion: bird spotting.

Okay, so it’s not exactly new, nor is it the kind of passion that has me twitching in a hide in the middle of a field every weekend, so let’s call it a rekindled interest instead.

When I was young, I knew the names of hundreds of birds. Since then, I’ve moved to another continent with new birds and I’ve forgotten so much of what I once knew.  But on a recent trip to the coast, after squinting at a flock of birds nesting on a cliff face and having no clue what they were, I invested in a pair of binoculars and a copy of Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds of Western North America.

In all honesty, I stink at bird identification, and I’m stumped by more birds that I identify, but I’ve added several species to my scorecard, from the tiny Oak Titmouse that visits the “Bird Café” outside my office window, to the magnificent Bald Eagle that circled above me in the San Juan Islands. I even managed to identify a Western Screech-Owl after an in-depth search for recordings of its call. But most of all, I’m having fun rekindling an old hobby and learning something new.

So here’s my challenge to you on this fabulous (pre-holiday weekend) Friday: What can you learn about next week? Maybe it’s an old passion you can rekindle or a new pleasure you’d like to investigate. Find something new to learn and report back on what you’ve learned, even if it’s just a bit of trivia on your topic.

For now, I’ll leave with a very poor quality iPhone photo of a pair of Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) that I spotted on the creek in my neighborhood. Happy holiday weekend to those of you stateside, and have fun learning something new!

P.S. Thanks to Kathleen for her suggestion for this post and for her excitement over my very common Common Merganser.


Remembering why you got together in the first place June 14, 2011

If you’re in a relationship and you’ve faced infertility or loss, odds are you’ve been through the wringer. Few people are at their best under stress and when that stress is prolonged, sometimes for years, the edges of even the strongest relationship can get a little frayed and tattered.

Part of the process of coming-to-terms with a life without children is patching that old relationship and moving on down the road. But how do you even start that when so much water has gushed under the bridge? It’s hard. Sometimes when so much has changed, it’s easy to lose track of why the pair of you ever got together in the first place, but those reasons form the glue that will hold the hold mess together when things go wrong.

So, what was it about your spouse that made you decide this was the person you wanted to have children with? What made you fall in love with him or her in the first place?

When your plans for a family don’t go right, take some time to reconnect with your partner to remember what it was that made you ever start out on this journey.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep the spark ignited in the passion department. See this post for ideas!


Let’s Talk About Sex May 26, 2011

A new reader, let’s call her Kerry, contacted me recently and had this to say:

“I’m in the coming-to-terms stage. Being 35 and on the crazy train for 5 years is enough for my husband and me.  I would like to hear from others about how to deal with (sigh…) loss of libido.  I assume I’m not the only one?  But I don’t know what to do about it, other than see a therapist, and I don’t really know how that will help anyway.  I used to have a sex drive like a MAN and TTC seems to have killed it almost completely.  This causes me much sadness, embarrassment and anger, and I have no idea how to fix my body’s refusal to enjoy sex!  I want to get back to enjoying my life, and this is a huge barrier.”

Let’s face it: having sex on-demand is like being force-fed chocolate. It sounds like a lot of fun at first, but it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off.

If you’ve been on the TTC (trying to conceive) merry-go-round, you know all about charting fertility and the mad scramble for the bedroom when that little line on the ovulation test stick shows up. After just a couple of months of failed attempts, it’s difficult to muster the enthusiasm to keep trying, especially as the success of the mission depends so much on both people being “in the mood” and even “in the moment.” Add to that the fact that the most intimate parts of your anatomy have been paraded before countless doctors, and the whole think quickly loses its allure.

From my own experience, I remember how sex became a frustrating chore and how quickly it stopped being about fun or even love. I also found that, once sex was associated with trying to conceive and all the emotional baggage that comes along with it, it was hard to separate the two again. But it’s possible.

I am no expert on the psychology of sex and libido, but I can speak from my own experience, so I will.

It does come back. It takes time and it’s part of the healing process. Once my husband and I got some distance from our experience and were truly on the road to moving on, we were able to focus on one another again, and the love that brought us together in the first place was still there. In fact, I think that the experience we went through together has brought us closer in many ways. We talked about it a lot (a LOT!!) and both agreed that, as awful as the infertility experience was, we were glad we went through it with each other, and not with someone else. In many ways, it has brought us closer and it helps to remember that.

As for getting the old libido back on track, pick up almost any women’s magazine and it will have an article on rekindling the passion – warm bath, candles, lingerie, toys. I think the trick is finding the thing that works for you. Warm baths and candles, for instance, are a sure way to put me to sleep. Here’s what does work for me. [Note to my husband: you should have stopped reading this post about five paragraphs ago. Sorry.] Commit to a minute. Just one minute. Even if you’re not in the mood, you can do anything for a minute. Agree that if it’s going nowhere after a minute, you’ll stop. Odds are, once you’re actually in the throes of intimacy, the rest will follow.

Ladies, what has been your experience in this department? Do you have any advice for Kerry? Please share it.


Finding My Passion Again October 12, 2010

Two Champion Cyclists!

This past weekend I took part in a big organized bike event. Along with my husband, mother, and some good friends, I pedaled my old Trek through 35 miles of beautiful Wine Country. It was a tough ride and I wasn’t quite as fit as I should have been, but still, I made it up the grueling two-mile-long hill, down the wild descent on the other side, and then turned around and went back over the same hill—wild climb up and grueling two-miles down! By the end I was exhausted, ready for the complimentary cold beer and mountain of paella, a hot shower and a long nap. And I did all of those things and THEN went out for beer and fish and chips with my family and friends. It was a fantastic day.

The ride reminded me how much I love biking and running, how much I used to enjoy training and participating in events. Somewhere in the mess of trying to become a mother, I lost sight of this. The ride inspired me to do more, to find other events and train to participate. And I can do that. I can get up early and go for runs; I can take an entire Saturday morning to go for a long training bike ride; and then I can do an all-day event and conk out on the couch in peace for the rest of the afternoon.  In short, I can do the things that please me, because the only other person I have to consider is my husband, and he’s a big boy who can choose to come along with me or stay home and entertain himself. Right now, I am grateful for this freedom to do something good for myself.

What about you? Over the years, what have you pushed aside that used to make you happy?  What haven’t you done for a long time that you could do now? And what would it take to do those things again?